Leaving Thailand was rough. I was flying out on the group flight, but had plans to stay in South Korea for a few days with another study abroad student. Nothing could have prepared me for the coldness of Seoul after the eternal summer of Chiang Mai. And it felt even colder because of the loss I was feeling, knowing even if I came back to Thailand, it would never be the same. I will shamefully admit I cried while alone in the immigration line after my friends continued on to their next flights without me.
I listened to this song as I saw Seoul for the first time, and it will always encapsulate those feelings for me. I think it makes a pretty great soundtrack for this post…
Around this time last semester, it finally began to sink in that I would be leaving Thailand soon. There was a part of me that was pretty thrilled to get to go home and have Christmas with my family, to see my dog, to eat lots and lots of pizza, and to sleep in my own bed. But another part of me was absolutely, uncontrollably heartbroken. My home in Tennessee would always be home, a place I love and where my roots are, but I was just getting used to having strong wings. I had built a new home in Thailand, and it felt too soon to leave.
So my friends and I made a bucket list of things to do before we left, things we wanted to try and things we loved so much that we had to do again. It included favorite restaurants, elephant riding, finally buying gifts for people, and other such experiences we felt we couldn’t miss. I don’t think we hit them all, but we certainly tried.
But since I no longer have that list, I’ve made another. This is my list of things that made Thailand such an unforgettable, strange, lovely home for me during my time there.
1. Hotel California
For whatever reason, Thailand is infatuated with the song “Hotel California.” I heard it everywhere, from restaurants with live music, to background music at the 7-Eleven, to the shuttle that took me around campus. So, to set the mood,
For those of you interested in seeing what my experience in Thailand actually looked like, I’m going to share a video made by one of my best friends from the program. (Partially because I’m too lazy to actually make a video of my own and partially because I really love this.) I hope you enjoy, and be sure to keep watching until 6:58, because that’s when yours truly comes in.
There were some very cautious young adults. They were in a foreign country, surrounded by strangers, and they took all the necessary precautions and more to keep themselves safe. They went out in pairs, always had a charged phone, and carried very little money on their person. They drank in moderation, and never even went to the bathroom alone. When strangers would approach them, they had a civil, but distant, demeanor and none of them dreamed of riding a scooter through traffic.
But then, as it often does, the waves of time eroded their convictions to safety, and one by one, they became vulnerable to some rather unsafe habits. These are their stories. Continue reading
I have a confession: I really enjoy hearing about other people’s drama. Now, I’m not saying this isn’t a fault, especially that it isn’t my fault, because it is. But I think it’s a little more justifiable in this day and age of reality television and social media to enjoy being able to sit back and enjoy the show from a safe distance. And I mean distance, because the minute it starts leaking into my life, it stops being funny.
I present to you, the cast of The Real World: Chiang Mai.
This story ranks #2 in the “I don’t want to tell my mom about this” category from my time in Thailand. (#1 will not be told, simply because it involves me being very stupid and I’m willing to shamelessly abuse my power as the narrator to make myself seem much more put-together than I really am.) But you do get to hear this one, which is more than my mother can say. (Totally kidding, she knows all the stories. I just wait a while so I can use the “I’m fine now!” card.)
A couple of weeks before fall break, a group of people from my program had decided to plan a trip to Krabi, in the south of Thailand. In total, there were nine of us planning on going, so I took a backseat with the planning. A few days before the trip, everything seemed to be in order. Two people of the group were flying in early, and the other seven of us would fly into Phuket on Wednesday evening, then split into a group of three and four because some people wanted to go on a kayaking trip, and then meet up again in Krabi, which was just a short bus ride or ferry away. But due to some logistical ambiguity, it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be as simple as we thought. I was in the group of three, and we had planned on staying in a hotel with my roommate (who has chosen to be referred to as Princess Little Piddles for this story) in Krabi when we got there. This was our first mistake. When we booked the hotel, it said it was located in Krabi, Koh Lanta, so we assumed the hotel was in Krabi. We later discovered Koh Lanta is an entirely separate island from Krabi, making our already somewhat convoluted journey even more complicated.
The distance from Phuket to Koh Lanta. You can see Krabi, our original destination, on there as well.
At the end of my first week in Chiang Mai, I still wasn’t convinced I was cut out for travel. It was all still so fresh that it stung a little. I didn’t really know how to be a person there yet. So, I spent most of my days joining other people on their plans and hoping that even if the city didn’t give me any joy, that maybe the presence of others would. Maybe their enthusiasm would transfer over to me and I would begin to love being there as well. And then I got food poisoning. Continue reading
Thus far, I have covered quite a lot of the “abroad” part of the term “study abroad.” But it’s surprisingly easy to forget about the studying part. I’d like to make the argument that being abroad is a learning experience enough, but I guess being in classes limits the number of meals I can justify in a day, so there’s that at least. Continue reading
Do you know that scene in Tangled when Mother Gothel sings a song to warn Rapunzel of the dangers of the outside world? Well my first few days in Thailand were actually pretty similar to that.
And here’s the clip for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about:
I think I’m Spring Broken.
The lack of motivation to do anything but sleep and frolic in flowers is getting ridiculous. But I suppose I can’t get a doctor’s note for Spring Fever, so the show must go on. At least blogging is kind of like talking to imaginary friends so it’s not too different from what I would be doing normally right now…
Getting on the flight
First, to lighten the mood. (This video contains strong language and is not work appropriate. Please watch at your own discretion.)